Stendeck is a project whom we have been proud to follow for most of his career here at Heathen Harvest and he has, since his first review was given in “Faces” on Geska Records, been a strong favorite of the long-time rhythmic listeners on staff here. The man behind the music is the Swiss Alessandro Zampieri and he has long been considered a downtempo genius around here. Stendeck entered into the world back in 2002 for a self-released effort in “A Crash into Another World”, an 11-track effort that featured guest musicians from Nicola Moretti, Mattia Colombo, and Marcel Ventker — all relatively unknown and probably friends of the artist. This was also the only album to date from Stendeck to feature vocals of any kind. It was in 2005 that Stendeck would have an album deal and release with Geska Records with “Can you Hear my Call?” and, two short years later in 2007, “Faces”. “Can you…” featured the return of violinist Mattia Colombo, but would be the last album to have guest musicians. This is also where Stendeck’s love for descriptive, long track titles would take form. This release would be the last for Geska Records as they closed down in 2008, and in 2009 Stendeck would find a new home in Tympanik Audio for the release of “Sonnambula”, and now “Scintilla”.
Scintilla is Italian for “spark” and seems to represent Stendeck’s passion for this music as well as being a modest tribute to his creativity. As usual with his releases, one word can pretty clearly describe the atmosphere that he creates: emotive. Tracks do not focus on simplicity or complexity in any fashion, but rather — through the sincerity of the melodies and the descriptive nature of the track titles — they focus on the depressive emotional ties that the listener can find in the music from their own perspective. Bold melodies pair up with droning backdrops to create sombre moods that operate surrounding the urban influence of moderately glitchy beats. Tracks like “Last Night an Angel Fell on a Motorway” through it’s abrupt piano sensibilities can come off as nearly surreal if not purely dream-like. It’s hard not to let your imagination run away from you with “Scintilla”. Whether it evokes memories from your past regrets or simply paints a beautiful picture in your mind of what the music represents, it gets the emotional and creative side of your brain prepped for massive amounts of inspiration.
Stendeck’s album covers up until this point have usually reflected the melancholy that is usually present in the music through bleak images of both urban and rural nature — going from an abandoned home in “A Crash into Another World” to the desolate landscape imagery on “Faces” and “Sonnambula”. Here we find Stendeck returning to his urban roots however through busy city streets and lonely tenebrous sidewalks. The trip-hop-esque, glitchy style that Zampieri incorporates for most tracks on the album is a perfect soundtrack to this visual scenario while the ethereal qualities that his underlying ambiance gives off gives life to the world of lonely spirits and subtle beauty that hide in the dark corners and alleyways of these urban sprawls. It’s an individualistic view of the concrete cityscape that is built clearly from the picture that adorns the cover of the album. During “Like Snowflakes on my Fingers”, for example, it’s easy to see or imagine Zampieri standing, hand out, give respect to the natural beauty falling around him while others hustle busily on their way to conducting their daily business. It’s a throwback to appreciating the beauty of life’s subtleties, and as sincere as it comes across, it’s no wonder how highly respected Stendeck has become over the years.
01) Hold my Hand High in the Sky Ready for the Deep Dive
02) Feel the Flames Burning Inside me
03) Catch the Midnight Girl
04) Tired Figures Wave Goodbye in the Backdrop of a Sinking Boat
05) Tight Around her Throat she Slips Away
06) Like snowflakes on my Fingers
07) Run Amok (Against Time Rebels)
08) Swimmers in a Sleepless Hour
09) Voiceless Wishes Flicker in the Shattered Mist
10) Six-door Bedroom
11) That Foolish Fascination of a Ghost Light Collector
12) Why did we get so far?
13) Learning how to Walk through Walls
14) Last Night an Angel Fell on a Motorway
15) Thieves of Watercolour Memories
16) The silence After this
17) Crimson Clouds Cascade